Review: Gnaw – Cutting Pieces

Fans of 2013’s Horrible Chamber will be ecstatic for the opportunity to return to the horrifying auditory landscape of Gnaw’s noise-ridden metal. The third instalment in the New York outift’s experimental discography continues to delve into challenging aural territories, blending their twisted interpretations of various metal subgenres to explore only the most torturous forms of musical extremity.

From the abstract blasts of noise that resonate throughout opening track ‘Rat’, it’s clear that the abnormal brand of visceral rage that has fuelled their work thus-far is very much present here. The opener lurches back and forth between dirgy sludge and cacophonous bursts of serrated guitar, dragging metal into its ugliest realms within the opening moments.

The rest of the release strives to keep it there – the likes of ‘Prowled Mary’ and ‘Triptych’ see Gnaw endeavour to get as weird as possible. Spearheaded by the chilling whispers of frontman Alan Dublin, ‘Prowled Mary’ is the LP’s most unnerving episode, whilst the slow-burning, sci-fi-horror soundscapes of closer ‘Triptych’ unravel in increasingly more abstract ways. Starting with a disconcerting brand of industrial doom, it becomes a sprawling masterpiece of all things barbaric and unorthodox as the album reaches the final stage in its bizarre evolution.

‘Septic’ and ‘Wrong’ are comparatively more conventional slabs of bruising, doom-laden metal, the former retching forward like a psychotic Godflesh whilst the latter opts for the hypnotic repetition of doom, but refrains from lulling through an unhinged vocal performance that infuses the track with an unsettling energy.

The album’s greatest strength is in its variety. Not only have Gnaw found a unique sound, but they’ve not rested on their laurels, constantly determined to discover increasingly intense forms of metal, each more carnivorous than the last. Cutting Pieces’ ability to surprise is unwavering, and though the band prove themselves capable noise metallers, they drift away from their core sound without a care, and the album fares all the better for it – the claustrophobic power of their music would be redundant if it used the same move over and over.

Cutting Pieces is out October 27th on Translation Loss Records. Purchase here.

Words: George Parr

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